Colleges, universities beef up offerings to student veterans
When Edward Godec began attending Rose State College four years ago, one of his first stops on campus was to the school's veterans affairs office.
Godec, a U.S. Army veteran, sat down with an adviser to get his Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits processed. Once the paperwork was complete, he asked what other services the office had to offer.
That was about all, the adviser told him.
Although that lack of services geared toward students who served in the military may have been the norm in the past, recent research suggests colleges and universities nationwide are beginning to beef up their offerings to veterans on campus.
That trend comes at least partly as a response to the most significant influx of student veterans since World War II.
Now a senior at the University of Oklahoma, Godec, 35, said veterans tend to be different from the typical college student. To begin with, he said, they're generally older, having spent several years in the military between high school and college.
Because of their military experience, veterans also tend to view the world differently from other college students, he said. They're often more aware of current events, and they tend to be more attentive even to minor details than most other students.
Going through life that way can be stressful, Godec said, so it's important that student veterans have a place on campus they can go to decompress and talk to people like themselves. When that kind of support isn't offered, he said, it can be easy for veterans to feel out of place or alienated.
“It's a lot more difficult for people who have been in the service and gotten out,” he said.
A recent study from the American Council on Education suggests more colleges and universities are beginning to address those concerns. The study, called “From Soldier to Student II,” was released in July.
The study is an update of a 2009 report that looked at how prepared campuses were to serve student veterans and military students after the 2008 passage of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
This year's report showed that 62 percent of participating institutions provide programs and services for military service members and veterans, up from 57 percent in 2009. About 71 percent of institutions included in the report said providing such programs and services was part of the school's long-term plan, up from 57 percent in 2009.